SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY manager Steve Bruce has reportedly asked Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri to speak to Premier League club Newcastle United about the vacant position at St James' Park.
Newcastle have targeted boyhood Magpies fan Bruce as their number one choice to replace Rafael Benitez and are keen to seal the appointment before they head off to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy at the weekend.
Corbridge-born Bruce returned from the Owls’ pre-season training camp in Portugal on Wednesday and Newcastle are now eager to put the wheels in motion to tempt him back to his native north-east.
As yet, no formal approach had been made for Bruce and it is unclear as to whether Wednesday will accede to his wish to speak to Newcastle, with the South Yorkshire club unlikely to lose the 58-year-old without a fight.
Bruce is on a rolling one-year contract and despite reports suggesting that the Magpies will only have to pay around £1m in compensation for his services, it is understood that any financial package would be significantly higher.
Newcastle are focusing on bringing in a manager with seasoned Premier League credentials, with vastly-experienced Bruce – who has managed the Magpies’ big rivals Sunderland among others – viewed as a safe pair of hands by club owner Mike Ashley.
Separate reports this morning (Thursday) revealed that former Magpies boss Sam Allardyce had rejected the chance to return to Tyneside, with Newcastle focusing all their attentions on luring Bruce.
Bruce found himself installed as the bookmakers favourite to replace Benitez on Tuesday, with some even suspending betting.
Asked about the rumours before leaving Portugal, Bruce, who officially began his role with the Owls on February 1 after a pre-planned break from the game, said: “It is news to me.
“God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. There seemed to be an upsurge (in the betting) from somewhere.
“John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows?
“As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow (Wednesday) and looking forward to walking the dog.”
Bruce’s comments arrived after a series of potential replacements for Benitez, including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard, had ruled themselves out of contention.
Any potential loss of Bruce, with the EFL season just over three weeks away, would represent a big blow to Wednesday.